(please see update at bottom)
After all these years, finally there’s a Greek house in Troy 😉
Ok, make that a Greek House, as in, The Greek House on 3rd. The Greek House has been around for a few years now and we’ve been 3 or 4 times, most recently this weekend. It’s a haul from the Schenectady region, but it’s worth it if you’re craving their particular menu or want something different – and it rises above similar dishes offered at local diners. It’s been reviewed before, including in The Record and The Times Union.
The Greek House, without a doubt, qualifies as a hole in the wall. With about 7 tables and one more outside in nice weather, it’s hit or miss if you get seated. They do offer takeout and, honestly, if we lived nearby we’d get takeout probably twice a month from them.
Let me knock off the negatives right away: It’s a touch pricey for some items, but I guess with so few tables they need to make it work. And not everything is spectacular, but everything we’ve had is quite good and worth going back for. It’s good enough that we’ve brought people from out of the area there.
I’ve always gotten the gyro and their gyro meat is fantastic. At the Blue Ribbon Diner it’s perfectly acceptable. At The Union Cafe it’s very good. The Greek House’s is my favorite in the area. Their full menu is on their site. It’s short and sweet. Before this most recent visit I’d always gotten a gyro with a side of lemon potatoes (actually called an appetizer on their menu). Strongly lemony and well cooked, it’s a great accompaniment to the gyro. This time I got the Gyro Platter, which deletes the tomato and red onion from your gyro and gives you greek fries (generic fries with parmesan and oregano) and a small salad. The salad was undressed but went over well enough with the provided oil and vinegar. ‘Well enough’ meaning we’re out of salad season, local produce-wise. It had a lot of tomatoes in it that I mostly relocated to my gyro to go along with the tzatziki. I was full when I left and I didn’t finish the slightly undercooked fries.
My wife tried the spanakopita this time and got quite a surprise. Instead of a layered dish, The Greek House takes the filling and rolls it up into a tube of phyllo and then shapes it into a snail (spiral shape) before baking. She liked it, saying it tasted “like spanakopita”, just in a different shape. She’s previously gotten the chicken souvlaki that was good. Not amazing, but good.
Our guest this time ordered the special, which was sort of disappointing. It looked like a grilled chicken leg (there may have been other chicken as well) in a sort of tomato-y sauce with mushrooms served over orzo. It mostly got eaten but didn’t seem like anything to write home about. Surprisingly it didn’t come with salad and probably should have.
We also ordered eggplant fries to try because they sounded interesting, but we never got them, which our server realized before she gave us the bill. It was so crazy there that we didn’t bother asking about them earlier. They had a full house, one cook, and one server. I can’t blame her for the missing appetizer, she was literally running between tables at times. She did her best to make sure drinks were kept up with, people didn’t wait too long to pay their bill, etc. It wasn’t what you would call excellent service, but she was certainly giving it her all, it was just too much. Apparently the owner left earlier, leaving her alone. Yikes. Despite our missing eggplant and extra time (we weren’t in a hurry) I gave a good tip, I don’t think she could have been working any faster or harder the whole time we were there. She even sat a table of four outside and was dealing with them.
As far as the rest of the menu goes, the only other item we’ve had in the past was the tzatziki appetizer. It’s good enough and does the job. Their pitas are OK and the tzatziki is standard stuff. I’ve definitely had worse, but I’ve also had better (Al-Baraki‘s springs to mind). Maybe I just like an extra kick of garlic.
Drinks are acceptable. Sodas in bottles served with a glass of ice. Even the unsweetened iced tea was just a bottle of tea. Having a big pot of freshly brewed tea to offer, maybe even at a lower cost than something bottled, could be a nice draw. They also have wines and beer, none of which I know enough about to enlighten you in any way. Or you can just get a glass of Troy water like I did.
Since we first went there it looks like they’ve spruced up a bit. It’s not fancy, but the paint was bright and looked fresh, things were clean. Generally just nice and tidy looking.
All in all this is a place I’d love to love more. I like it. I like it a lot. Everything is pretty good and a few things are quite good, but it’s just not quite worth a regular drive all the way to Troy for it. Especially if you don’t know if you’re even going to get a table. In some ways I feel the space is really working against them, you can see people strolling down 3rd and they look in, but see that it’s full and keep walking, off to eat somewhere else. They’re clearly losing diners that way. Still, being full is good as long as you turn your tables over efficiently. Maybe they do a good takeout business during the week. I hope so. Eliminating the cost of a tip and drinks, we’d be all over their takeout.
The Greeks are ensconced in Troy, pay them a visit.
(May 2015 update – Not sure what’s going on here. Went back after a lengthy absence and weren’t impressed. Gyro meat was still good, but the spanikopita was questionable. Looked and tasted premade, frozen, and reheated. Those two items should be a guaranteed win for an honest-to-goodness Greek restaurant like The Greek House. Fries were fantastic for what it’s worth, so the guy doing the cooking was fine, I doubt he’s responsible for food prep, though. That’s purely a guess. I don’t know, effort needs improvement here. Could be so much more – foot traffic was constant, at least one family sat and then left everything was so slow and confused.)